Maggie Gyllenhaal Interview – THE DARK KNIGHT

     July 14, 2008

While I’d love to post all the interviews I did for The Dark Knight after you’ve all seen the movie, I know Warner Bros. probably wouldn’t be too happy with me if I did. The reason I’d like to not post them is…The Dark Knight is one of the best movies we’ll get this year. It’s loaded with action, great performances, and tons of twists and turns that’ll make your head spin. Also…big things happen to a lot of the characters. And I mean BIG.

I walked into the theater and saw The Dark Knight not knowing any of the spoilers. I didn’t know what happened to any of the key characters. And I was so happy I didn’t. Not knowing what’s going to happen ALWAYS makes a movie better.

Anyway, I LOVED The Dark Knight. LOVED.

It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, and it’s absolutely as good as the buzz you’re hearing online and in every magazine. So…if you’re planning on seeing the film this weekend or anytime soon…don’t ruin the ride. Avoid the spoilers. Don’t read the interviews. Stop watching the clips and the trailers. Try and walk in as fresh as you can. I promise you…you’ll be happy you did.

If I were you….bookmark this page. Come back and read it after you see the movie. That way when Maggie Gyllenhaal talks about certain things, you won’t have anything ruined.

But that’s just me. I like being spoiler free. But for the rest of you…the ones who already know what happens and want to learn as much as you can…enjoy the interview. I think it’s the best one I participated in at the junket a few weeks ago.

Finally, the last thing I want to tell you all is when you go see The Dark Knight…go see it in IMAX!!!! About 25 minutes of the movie was shot in the large screen format and it’s a sight to behold. While seeing it on a normal movie screen won’t be a bad experience, it’s not what director Christopher Nolan envisioned and since he filmed the movie for you to watch it in IMAX…do yourself a favor and seek it out.

And even if you see it on a normal movie screen this weekend as most of the IMAX shows are sold out…the movie is so good you’ll all see it again anyway. Just make sure the second time is in IMAX.

As always, you can either read the transcript below or download the audio as an MP3 by clicking here.

The Dark Knight opens this Friday. Like you didn’t know…..

Question: You have the unenviable task of stepping into a role another actress has played. Can you talk about that?

Maggie Gyllenhaal: Um, sure. Well, first of all I wanted to make sure I had her blessing and when I was sure I did…y’know, I’m’ a fan of hers. I think she’s a lovely actress. I thought she did a great job with the previous Batman. I know her a tiny, tiny bit. I’ve sort of seen her around and there and she has a daughter who slightly older than mine. I really like her work, but I also felt like it wouldn’t do anyone any good for me to try and imitate anything she had done. I would have been horrible at that. And I thought, y’know, the only thing I need to do is give her a new woman. Of course there were things in the previous movie, plot points and narrative and things that were really important in our movie, so I think it touches those and the way she felt that. The most importantly I think I think she says at the very end of the movie she says to Bruce that she loves him, but she can’t be with him while he’s Batman. She understands why he’s Batman, but that she can’t be with him. And of course, that goes through exactly all of this movie and Katie created all of that, so, of course, she was a huge part of this. But, not, I think in a direct way for me. I really had to think of her as a different woman when I played her.

Q: When you are playing the oldest friend of Bruce Wayne, did you and Christian get together in advance to sort of figure out that chemistry or is that something you found on set?

Maggie Gyllenhaal: It’s funny; because that is exactly the kind of rehearsal I like to do. If you’re supposed to have known someone many years hang out with them a little while, but we didn’t really. Because [someone?] isn’t big into rehearsal really and neither was anyone in the movie I think. In a way, when you are a film actor, you start to figure out other strange ways to prepare and rehearse because you really don’t have the time for that. So, we didn’t do much rehearsal, but somehow we just mashed into each other and created that. I think it’s there, but we sort of found it as we worked, Christian and I.

Q: Can you talk about working with Chris Nolan?

Maggie: Yeah, I’m a fan of his to the point that I wasn’t looking to work when this came along. I had a three-month-old baby and I wasn’t reading scripts or anything and I met him because I liked him and his work. And I thought he was so smart and honest and I thought we really connected on something that was very important to me. I didn’t want to do the movie under any circumstances. I wanted to be able to make sure she was going to be a real thinking woman and she was going to be able to be fierce and feisty and care as much about honor and justice and the community she was in as much as any of these guys did. And Chris seemed to so completely agree with me about that. It felt to me as though the thing that was most important to me was just as important to him. Even so, I even thought, ‘OK, great, good. At least I know he agrees with me. He’ll go and deal with the 200 extras and the bat motorcycle and the helicopters and stuff and I’ll do my thing. At least he won’t be offended about what I’m doing.’ And, when we got on set that wasn’t the way at all it was. Literally there would be 2,000 people that he had to manage and he had to choreograph and guns going off and explosions and he would find a way to come see Aaron and I who were like in the very back of this huge shot doing a little tiny scene and give some note that was thoughtful and inspiring and really helpful. And I didn’t expect it. All I needed to know was let me be sure that you get me and like what I want to do. And then it turned out he pushed me even more than I wanted to go myself.

Q: One of the scariest scenes when you and the Joker have a confrontation at the party. Can you talk about how much that was scripted and how much came up on set?

Maggie: Well, Heath, now that I’ve seen the movie I know that he did something that’s just remarkable in the movie and even for the most experienced and talented actors is very rare, which is he hit this stride where he is absolutely free. And, I hadn’t acted with him or seen any of his work at all in the movie until I came to set that day. And then I kind of got this sense of how he was working and what was happening. So, even though the scene is very scary and full of tension, and horrible in a lot of ways, I actually had such a blast shooting it with him, because anything I did he would role with me and he threw all sorts of things at me. And, of course, the camera shot us – it was just one camera going around us in a circle. So, often if you shoot a scene you have to shoot it in many angles. So, if you’ve shot the scene then you have to match the same action you did in all the other angles. But, if you’re just shooting it over and over again moving around two people, you don’t really have to match anything. So, yeah, things were different in every take and it was really exciting working with him.

Q: Did you know him very well before you made the movie together?

Maggie: I knew him some.

Q: Did that give you more comfort in working with him?

Maggie: Um, I don’t know. I’m not sure.

Q: You worked with the IMAX cameras at all?

Maggie: I don’t think so. I would know right? (Laughs.) They said, you might not know.

Q: Gary Oldman said they were as big as a washing machine and very noisy and there is a manual telling you how to act.

Maggie: (Laughs.) Really? You don’t have to do very much? I don’t think so. I didn’t get the booklet.

Q: What was your reaction when you first read the script and how closely is the final film to what you original read?

Maggie: Well, I sort of – I guess I didn’t say that part. It’s part of this whole thing I’ve had to say. When I first met Chris he gave me the script and said, ‘She wasn’t quite finished.’ And I thought was right, quite frankly, when I read it. She was missing some kind of fire. But he knew that and that’s what I meant when I read it in terms of Rachel’s stuff. I said, ‘We’ve got to find that. I need her to care as much as everyone else does and be as active in trying to get what she wants as everyone else does.

Q: Was that interrogation scene always yours? I feel like in any other movie it would have been Aaron with you standing behind the glass. I liked that it was you instead.

Maggie: I love that scene. That was my favorite scene to act in the whole movie. I think I would like to play a lawyer again and play a little more cross-examination. I loved that. It was so much fun and Chris was really helpful in that scene. Pushing me all the way through to be more confident. I sort of thought, ‘I wanna make her so strong and he’s gonna show me ways that what I wasn’t doing wasn’t actually the ideal thing.’ ‘What about this? What about that?’ I remember once in the scene where we are in the courtroom and it’s really late and I added in a line which, like, was very unusual, I don’t know what I was thinking, but I said something like, ‘Y’know, I could just as easily tried this case.’ And Chris said, ‘If you say that, it actually puts you on the defensive that it seems less likely that you could have just as easily tried this case. If you say nothing and you just are capable then we believe that’s true.’ And it was absolutely right.

Q: Who was your fictional hero and who is your actual hero (favorite)?

Maggie: My favorite fictional hero. Umm, I’m so bad at this kind of thing. You ask me and there are probably cameras on and I can’t think. I wasn’t into comic books really. I just never read them. But, I mean I admire people who are willing to risk something sometimes even as fundamental as their life for what they believe is the good of the world. And there are many people who are willing to do that. Not as many as I would like, but it’s why its so valuable and I think it’s why, I think it’s what I was so relieved what this movie said. This movie is made for millions and millions and millions of dollars. SO, many people putting so much effort thought and heart into it and I was afraid it wouldn’t be about anything. That was the fear I guess. The script was about something, of course, Chris Nolan is directing it, but what if it weren’t? And instead, it’s a movie about honor and being willing to fight against what you think is corrupt and justice and being courageous enough to try and change things.

Q: Can you talk about ‘Farlanders’ and working with Sam Mendes?

Maggie: Yes, ‘Farlanders’ is a movie I made in the spring with Sam Mendes. And I know I had a blast. It’s a comedy and I play this woman who is really into hippie, attachment parenting. And everyone in the home family sleeps in this big bed and she’s still nursing a four-year-old. (Laughs.) It’s like so funny. I had a really good time making that movie. It was, again, really good actors, really good director and when you have that it’s so easy.

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